Wire fraud topped the list as a sophisticated scam causing consumers to lose millions of dollars each year. Hackers are gaining access to e-mail accounts through captured passwords, and they’ll search inboxes for messages related to real estate transactions. Once they find a victim who’s in the process of buying a home, they’ll send a spoof e-mail that looks like it’s from their agent, title representative, or escrow holder, and it will say there are “new” wiring instructions, which includes a fraudulent account. The home buyer will then unwittingly wire funds directly into the hacker’s account. Once they send it, the money is gone. Millions of dollars are lost on this.
Keep in mind, wire fraud is not limited to buyers only! Sellers can be victimized also. Sellers, please be prepared for your escrow holder to call you to verify your wiring instructions on the day the escrow closes.
Here are some tips to protect yourself from Wire Fraud:
- OAKWOOD ESCROW WILL NEVER EMAIL WIRE INSTRUCTIONS. IF YOU RECEIVE WIRE INSTRUCTIONS VIA EMAIL purporting to be from Oakwood Escrow or from your real estate or loan agent claiming that they are from Oakwood Escrow, THEY ARE NOT VALID. CALL YOUR ESCROW OFFICER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU RECEIVE WIRE INSTRUCTIONS VIA EMAIL!
- Immediately prior to wiring any money, the person sending the money should call their escrow officer to verify the wiring instructions. Only use a verified telephone number to make this call.
- Avoid free Wi-Fi with no firewall to protect against hackers capturing an e-mail password or other sensitive information.
- Always use strong passwords and change them regularly.
- Do not let your guard down. Start from the assumption that any email in your in-box could be a targeted attack from a criminal.